Skills & Competencies

Types of Skills

There are two types of skills to consider including on your resume, traditionally called hard and soft skills.  Hard skills are those which you have learned in some way, through experience, training, or education.  They often relate directly to the job, and in many cases, there’s no question about whether you have or do not have these skills.  Hard skills include things such as supervision, project management, computer programming, web design, accounting, graphic design, Spanish, or any foreign language.

On the other hand, according to’s career blog:

Soft skills are a combination of interpersonal skills, social skills, character traits, social intelligence, and emotional intelligence (among many others) that enable you to navigate your work and social environment and work well with other people. They complement your hard skills for most jobs….It’s a mistake to dismiss soft skills as “secondary” to hard skills. In fact, soft skills are what allow you to execute your hard skills with efficiency, accuracy, and in collaboration with others. Most jobs nowadays require working in teams towards a certain goal, so soft skills are extremely important for almost every job/industry you will apply to.[1]

Soft skills are also called transferable skills. Soft or transferable skills include things such as teamwork, communication, resilience, motivation, or critical and creative thinking.

Both hard and soft skills are important to highlight in your résumé and cover letter; in fact, a CNBC article quotes professional career coach John Suarez, who states that about 95% of résumés he helps clients create include a skills section.[2] Skills are important to include for a number of reasons. They support:

  • customization – you can emphasize particular skills based on preferred skills listed in the job announcement
  • electronic scanning – programs look for word matches between advertised skills and applicants’ skills
  • self-marketing – a skills section provides a fuller understanding of “you” than a list of previous job titles and duties

The Context for Transferable Skills

The researchers and authors of Robot-Ready: Human + Skills for the Future of Work, assert that as jobs become more automated, employers are valuing soft or “human” skills more fully:

Automation will create an opportunity for those in work to make use of the innate human skills that machines have the hardest time replicating: social and emotional capabilities, providing expertise, coaching and developing others, and creativity….These are skills that enable learners to transfer their knowledge from domain to domain in the face of job obsolescence and to learn new skills in demand.  Human skills are in high demand across many industries and include skills such as leadership, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, communication, emotional intelligence, judgment, ethics, and cognitive flexibility.[3]

Transferable Skills / Competencies

According to Robot-Ready and “The 10 Critical Job Skills of the Future,”[4] employers value the following competencies, which enable employees to complete specific tasks, learn new tasks, and function as responsible, creative contributors to a workforce, no matter what type of job they perform:

  • cognitive flexibility – the ability to learn and adapt
  • collaboration, teamwork, coordinating with others and/or managing others effectively
  • critical and analytical thinking, complex problem-solving, judgment and decision-making
  • creativity
  • communication, negotiation
  • motivation, growth mindset
  • emotional intelligence
  • resilience, persistence
  • quality and integrity

The following video highlights four specific, transferable competencies.  Note, though, that desired competencies do depend on the particular organization, job, and context.

The following video provides tips on how to identify and choose transferable skills to include on your résumé.

[1 ] Skills for Resume in 2019. Careerblog.

[2] Kerri Anne Renzulli. “25% of Americans Plan to Look for a New Job in 2019–here’s Exactly What Your Resume Should Look Like.” CNBC make it.

[3] Michelle R. Weise, Andrew R. Hanson, Rob Sentz, Yustina Saleh. Robot-Ready: Human + Skills for the Future of Work. Strada Institute for the Future of Work. 2018. CC-BY-NC

[4] David Hendrick. The 10 Critical Job Skills of the Future. The Darden Report.